2012 Synapse Residency Program

Synapse, an initiative of the Australia Council for the Arts and ANAT, supports collaborations between artists and scientists

The following Australian artists were awarded Synapse residencies for 2012:

Keith Armstrong (QLD) + Australian Wildlife Conservancy (VIC, SA, NSW)

armstrong 2012Australia has the highest mammal extinction rate in the world – not something to be proud of. To halt this decline, the Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC) acquires high ecological-value land, establishes sanctuaries and actively manages the land through feral animal control, weed eradication, fire management and the translocation of threatened species. This approach – practical land management informed by strong science – has at its heart an interdisciplinary focus that sits happily with one of Australia’s most established and successful artists, Keith Armstrong. Through a career spanning two decades, as well as his work as Senior Research Fellow at the Queensland University of Technology, Armstrong has focused on art-science and ecology-based collaborations with scientists, musicians, dancers, critical theorists and performers. With the AWC’s South-West Region Chief Scientist, Matt Hayward, he will explore ways of shifting cultural thinking to generate broad-based actions to reverse the decline of Australian habitat health and diversity.

Image: Long Haired Rat – Skull remains retrieved from a regurgitated barn owl pellet.  Photo: Keith Armstrong

 Peta Clancy (VIC)| Helen Pynor (NSW) + Heart and Lung Transplant Unit, St Vincent’s Hospital (NSW), Victor Chang Cardiac Research Unit (NSW) + St Vincent’s Clinical School (NSW)

pynor 2 synapse 2012The ambiguities arising out of organ transplantation have provided fascinating fodder for artists Clancy and Pynor throughout their careers. In their most recent research and exhibition project exploring transplantation, The Body is a Big Place, they explored the tenuous boundary between life and death and the complex tensions between consciousness, subjectivity, mind and body. The current project enables the artists to extend this research through a focus on the emerging transplant protocol, ‘Donation after Cardiac Death – DCD’. The differences between DCD and the more conventional ‘Brain Stem Death’ protocol raises fresh questions that clinicians, with their demanding day-to-day surgical practices, have little time to address. The artists will explore an array of complex issues arising in clinical settings as a result of developments in transplantation technologies – beginning with the fundamental tension between the maintenance of donor dignity and the optimisation of organ condition.

Image: Installation – The Body is a Big Place, Peta Clancy and Helen Pynor

Nola Farman (NSW) + Centre for Organic Electronics, University of Newcastle (NSW)

Farman Synapse 2012Imagine a planet able to harness the abundant light energy received every second of every day, a city where every building, every vehicle and every surface has an electricity-generating coating that makes low cost energy available to all. This is the vision being pursued by Paul Dastoor and his research team at the University of Newcastle’s Centre for Organic Electronics.  Nola Farmer is an award-winning artist who has pursued a diverse sculptural and installation practice since the early 1980s. Her most recent installation works are realised, paradoxically, through the impacts of erosion, weathering, vegetation, insect infestation, human interference and other effects more usually construed as destructive. Together, the artist and researchers have proposed a project that takes a fresh approach to the integration of solar cells into highly-constrained environments, providing a mechanism for rethinking how solar energy is integrated into the very fabric of our society.

Image: Maquette (found objects and cardboard).  Photo: Permangelo E. Regularis




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